Getting enough quality sleep is essential to a healthy and balanced life; a troubled sleep cycle can disrupt the rhythm of our life and negatively affect our physical and psychological health. Although you might not be able to control all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, there are things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. Practicing sophrology is one such thing.
Scientific experiments have shown that sleep is regulated by an “internal clock” inside our brain. To live in balance with this internal clock, we would preferably sleep during the middle of the afternoon and at night. These two moments are considered “the doors of sleep”. At night, we should sleep 7 – 8 hours, or a third of the day, to regenerate our physical and mental fitness.
Your sleep can be disrupted by various factors and sleep disorders are divided into three categories:
- Dyssomnias: insomnia, jet lag
- Hypersomnia: sleep apnea (transient interruptions of the respiratory cycle), snoring, narcolepsy (involuntary and sudden falling asleep at any time of the day)
- Parasomnias: nightmares, nocturnal terrors, somnambulism
So many factors are likely to affect our sleep, including:
- Psychological factors like anxiety, depression, or trauma
- Physical factors such as sleep apnea, hyperthyroidism, reflux, cancer, epilepsy, fever, or a migraine
- Lifestyle and environmental factors, think of daily stress, noise, work schedule, or an intense physical activity
We now know that repeated lack of sleep can have harmful consequences, including:
- Physical consequences which include fatigue, weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders, or viral infections
- Psychological and social consequences such as irritability, lack of concentration, depression, headache, decreased motivation, learning difficulties, or professional worries
How does Sophrology promote quality sleep?
As a first step, your sophrologist will explore your past health history, any current issues that are adding stress or anxiety, and what sleeping problems you are encountering. In case your sleep problems are related to a serious physical or psychological condition, then please do not consider sophrology as a substitute to traditional medical treatment, but as a complementary therapy, you can practice in addition to your regular medical treatment.
Then, your sophrologist will develop a plan with you aimed at improving the quality of your sleep. Generally, this plan will start by helping you to better understand your sleep patterns and behaviors as well as lifestyle advice and simple sophrology exercises to do at home.
Sophrology exercises for quality sleep
Relaxation and tension release: Sophrology teach you to release physical tension. It encourages you to listen to your body, identify where the tension is held, and learn to release it.
Breathing exercises: Sophrology includes breathing techniques, such as abdominal breathing, to help you relax and calm your mind.
Visualization and defocusing exercises: Sophrology helps you to turn away from any recurring thoughts that may prevent you from sleeping, or even the effort you are making to try to fall and stay asleep, by teaching you how to concentrate on a calming image or on an area of your body.
Thought-breath synchronization: These techniques teach you to associate your breath with a calming word or thought. For example, with each inhale think of the word “calm”, with each exhale feel the calm in your body.
And in general, you will learn quick and simple exercises which you can use during the day to regain energy when feeling tired as well as techniques to manage stress and anxiety which can affect sleep.
Sometimes it takes a few changes in our lifestyle to improve our sleep and create positive conditions for falling asleep. Try taking the following steps:
- Avoid any activity incompatible with sleep at least two hours before going to sleep. For example, avoid intense physical or stressful activities.
- Keep the room you’re in before going to sleep as quiet and dark as possible, and avoid any strong stimuli such as bright lights, strong odors, and electronic screens.
- Plan a transitory phase before you sleep by doing a calm activity such as reading or listening to calming music. This is also a good time to implement sophrology practices. Work to establish a ritual that will let your brain know that you are preparing yourself for sleep.
- Do a regular physical activity during the day, at least two times per week.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and avoid late dinners or snacks. At a minimum, stop eating two hours before going to sleep.
- Make sure that your bedroom is not too hot and well ventilated.
Implement these tips and consider learning sophrology for improved sleep and an increased ability to truly listen and improve your physical and emotional health and well-being.
Do you have tips on how to get a good night’s sleep? Please share them in the comment section below.